School bond elections in South Dakota would have to be conducted in June or November if pending legislation becomes law.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Goodwin, R-Rapid City, said the bill is motivated by the timing of Rapid City’s recent school bond election.
The election on Rapid City’s proposed $190 million bond issue was Tuesday. About a foot of snow fell on the city Monday night and Tuesday morning.
The measure fell just short of the required 60 percent for approval, but Goodwin said opponents are still suspicious about the school board's decision to schedule the election in February.
“There’s a lot of people who think because of this time of year, February 25th, that it could be a form of voter suppression,” Goodwin testified to a legislative committee in Pierre. “If you think about it, our snowbirds have already went south, and you never know what the weather's going to be like in February. I mean, we do know February could be a nasty month.”
Goodwin’s bill requires traditional Tuesday election dates in June or November for future school bond elections.
Several people and groups testified against the bill during its committee hearing Monday. One opponent was Wade Pogany, executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota. He said there is important logic behind the scheduling of bond elections.
“We don’t intentionally run them in February so that people can’t come to the polls. That is not true,” Pogany said. “We run them based on the timing of the bonds and when the school boards need those monies, when those come into effect, when the taxing happens on those bonds – that's all based on the timing of the actual event itself.”
The bill passed the House of Representatives 38-27 on Thursday and is on its way to the Senate.